Learning about other artists is an important aspect of improving your own art know-how, whether it’s just a hobby or a prospective career path. This includes learning about artists of the past who have influenced the art world, as well as emerging artists and the current trends in the local art scene.
DC has been home to many influential artists, and continues to produce artists in many different media. Here are five important DC artists of the past and present who have helped put that nation’s capital on the art map.
1. William Leavitt
William Leavitt is a DC native who, in many ways, encapsulates where American art is at in the 21st century. A multidisciplinary artist of paintings, photographs, installations, and other forms, he is now based in LA and uses his work to ask questions about how we relate to pop culture and the entertainment industry. Leavitt’s diverse work is both a celebration and critique of Americana, and demonstrates how artists can engage with ideas when they refuse to be constrained by structure. While mainly associated with conceptual art in LA, Leavitt’s success in California has been an inspiration to younger DC artists with postmodern sensibilities. When it comes to influences on conceptual art in DC today, Leavitt is truly one of the most important figures.
2. Christian Platt
Christian Platt is one of the youngest artists on this list, born in DC in 1986. His work explores ideas found in complexity theory. Using white dots on black paper, he builds works of enormous scale that seek to overwhelm the observer. A graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, he has emerged as a key new voice in the art world, tackling the older artistic concerns of balance and order while also addressing our modern fears of technology. Platt is an important figure for emerging artists in DC, demonstrating that there is still much to be said, even when dealing with classic themes. Moreover, his fast success has been an inspiration for aspiring painters in the nation’s capital; his continued improvement and growing popularity have arrived via a mix of talent, hard work, and ongoing study, and is a great example for young artists to follow.
3. Jessica Van Brakle
Jessica Van Brakle has a family background in the construction business, and this is reflected in her work. Famous for the crane and construction metaphors throughout her pieces, Van Brakle uses fine black lines and organic forms, along with bright colors, to explore the possibilities of human perception. The minimalist approach of her work marries classical themes with concerns of urbanization and illustrates how modern landscape painting is not restricted to purely pastoral scenes. A local Washington artist, her use of cranes as the main motif within her landscapes is truly unique; this exciting symbol depicts and speaks to the progress of modern DC.
4. William Adair
William Adair is renowned among DC artists for his concept of creating door-like spaces using frames, portals, mirrors, and metallic leaf. He has changed the DC arts scene with his innovative approach to his exhibits. One of his most recent exhibits, “The Golden Doors to Infinity”, is a traveling show that journeys through different cities around the world, before ending in the California desert where it will be left to decay. His contributions to gilding and frame history in DC and the greater art world have been tremendous. His emphasis on conservation has also helped push preservation of old art works to the forefront of the industry.
5. Pat Goslee
Pat Goslee has worked with abstract patterns in painting for many years. She uses complex forms and materials to create dense compositions that produce an illusion of deep space. Her work encourages thinking and wondering in an entirely fresh way, and urges the viewer to get lost in the art. As one of the most influential DC artists today, her paintings have made a huge impact on the art world in DC, particularly with her most recent showing, a pairing with Jessica Van Brakle at the Adah Rose Gallery in Kensington. Goslee’s abstract works are both aesthetically pleasing and deeply contemplative, and have added a jolt of energy to the DC art scene.
These artists are important people to keep an eye on in the DC arts scene. As a new artist, it’s a good idea to stay connected to the local arts community and to meet and study as many artists as possible. Likewise, knowing about artists who have come before us can help you improve your own art. Check out what these artists are doing, as well as other fine artists from the DC area. You never know what might inspire you!
Photo by www.GlynLowe.com